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The organisation funding the development of genetically modified (GM) mustard crop is considering pulling out of the project, potentially putting a question mark over the fate of the transgenic crop awaiting government nod for commercial production in India.
HT has reviewed a letter from the National Dairy Development Board’s (NDDB) chairman T Nanda Kumar to Deepak Pental, the director of Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants at Delhi University, expressing the board’s intent to withdraw from the project.
Pental is the chief developer of GM mustard in India, which could become the only transgenic food crop to be commercially produced in the country if the government approves. India currently allows only BT cotton, which was approved in 2002.
More than 50% funding for the DU’s project of development of hybrid mustard crops had come from NDDB.
An application for clearance for commercial harvest of the crop is pending with the ministry of environment and forest.
Pental added that he would explore all possible grants if NDDB pulled out. “It will be unfortunate if Indian farmers are denied the benefits of this technology,” he said.
In the letter, the NDDB recommended that the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) should support the further research on the project. According to Pental, however, ICAR is insisting that NDDB should continue funding the project.
Development of GM crop is a sensitive issue in the country with farmers’ groups including Sangh Parivar affiliates opposing the government proposed plans to allow commercial production of GM mustard, citing concerns over bio-safety and livelihood of peasants.
Read full, original post: GM mustard project may lose main source of funds